Frank Reese on Heritage Turkeys

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Our very own Frank Reese was profiled in Modern Midwest as a farmer who “wants to change the way you think about your Thanksgiving Meal Centerpiece.” 

WHAT IS A HERITAGE TURKEY?

  • Long life outdoors:  Heritage turkeys should be active and healthy: running, jumping, flying and exploring, all in the great outdoors. Farm factory raised birds are confined to buildings, and are too overweight to fly.
  • Naturally mating:  Forget artificial insemination. There better be no needles involved when it comes to making little baby heritage turkeys — also known as poults. Broad-breasted white turkeys have been genetically engineered to the point they can no longer naturally mate.
  • Slow growth rate: Factory farms can raise a 20-pound turkey in 12 weeks. It should take at least twice as long (28 weeks) for a heritage turkey, giving them time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs.
  • Meat: Expect a heritage bird’s meat to be darker thanks to all that running, jumping and exercising on the farm. The darker the meat, the more nutritional, said Reese. “If you’ve got muscle that’s been used, you have the ability to store vitamins. You don’t store vitamins in fat.”
  • Heritage varieties: Black, Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, Slate, Bourbon Red, Beltsville Small White, Royal Palm, Jersey Buff and White Midget.

About leah eden

As a cultural anthropologist who has done a lot of research for the world's largest food companies, Leah knows that food matters. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Boston University then spent the next 8 years conducting research into how consumers think about health and food issues in American culture. In 2012, Leah said goodbye to Old Bay and hard-shell crabs in Baltimore, MD and moved to Brooklyn, NY to start her Master's degree in Food Studies at New York University.